This Christmas I received the cookbook Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark as a Christmas gift (thanks Kate!). For those of you who don't know, Claire is the head pastry chef at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA. I was lucky enough to work in close proximity to her a few times while I was a pastry cook at Bouchon. She would come over to the bakery every once in a while to borrow some chocolate, or to talk to Ethan (he was the pastry chef at Bouchon then). I could tell from the few encounters I had with her that she is an amazing pastry chef.
Indulge is inspirational; every turned page revealed a new recipe I want to make. Today, I made the Blackcurrant Spoom on page 198. I chose this recipe because I love the idea of a tasty low fat dessert; and that's exactly what this is. In addition, I'm a huge fan of making and tasting Italian Meringue. Meringue is so simple and beautiful. According to Ms. Clark a spoom is a light fluffy type of sorbet. The recipe calls for 14 oz of frozen blackcurrants, but I couldn't find them. I ended up using 10 oz of frozen blackberries and 4 oz of mix frozen berries (black, blue and raspberries).
The blackberry spoom was delicious, though there are a couple changes I would make. First off, if I make blackberry again I will cut back on the sugar a bit. I know that sugar helps crystallize the sorbet, and prevents it from getting too hard; but it was too sweet. I think what I'll do is cut back on the sugar and add just a tiny bit of booze to the sorbet so that it won't get too hard (not too much though because it won't freeze). Second I would love to make this recipe again as directed by Claire with the blackcurrants. I can imagine how the acidity of the currants would play nicely with the sweet meringue.
Blackberry Spoom (adapted from Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark)
First, place an empty container in the freezer large enough to hold 2 quarts (1 big bowl will do). You'll need this at the end of the recipe.
14 oz frozen blackberries
3 ½ oz water
Thaw blackberries in a pot. Once they're thawed add the water. Cook over very low heat till tender. About 20 minutes. If your water evaporates add more to bring it back to the original level. Puree the mixture and strain it through a fine sieve. From that you should get at least 9 oz of puree.
Put 9 oz of puree in a heavy bottomed pot with:
5 fl oz water
Bring to a boil. Stir in:
Juice from one and a half limes (Claire suggests ½ lime with the black currants). The blackberries really needed the extra acid to perk them up. Take the mixture off the heat and cool completely.
In a small heavy bottom pot bring the following to a boil:
2 ¾ oz sugar
1 ½ tbsp water
Here's a tip. Put the water in the pan first and then pour the sugar directly into the middle of the pan. Take your finger and make a cross through the sugar so that the water gets fully incorporated into it. Try hard not to get any sugar on the edges of the pan. If there is water on the edges of the pan, wash down the sides with a brush soaked in water.
Once the sugar has started to boil. Whisk:
2 egg whites (room temp is best)
With a hand mixer to soft peaks. Once they reach soft peaks and your sugar reaches 245 F, turn your mixer to low and slowly pour your hot sugar mixture into your egg whites. Be careful not to get sugar on your beaters, but make sure to move your beaters around so that the sugar gets incorporated. Turn your hand mixer back up and beat till the meringue is no longer warm, smooth and holds a peak.
Combine the meringue with the sorbet so that you have ripples of both white meringue and sorbet in it.
Put your spoom mixture into the container you had put in the freezer earlier. Put that back in the freezer for at least an hour. Once it's frozen you can pipe or spoon it into your serving dishes. Serves 8.